Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday Movie Wishlist

What's on your movie wishlist?

Bonne journée,


Friday, November 29, 2013

Pattern Anxiety

 I've been knitting on and off, mostly off (until about 2 years ago) for about 30 years.  Three years ago, I was ill and knitting helped me get better.  The regular click clicking was the rhythm I needed to soothe myself back to health.

So since then, I've been knitting mostly long boring patterns: straight stitch cable stitch a little bit of knit two together and yarn over but never, have I attempted a real lacy pattern.  I DID teach myself to knit in the round, to do the long tail cast on and made 3 socks with a little help from a friend at the office.  Not bad progress over that period of time for someone who devoted just a few months a year in my spare time.  I don't often knit in summer because it's so short, I don't want to miss anything.  Fall means soup and knitting for me and this stretches out until April mostly.

As I am now semi-retired, I picked up this pattern to make for my darling hair dresser C.  She has turned 40 this year and she is so very good to me. 

So how much work can one little line of pattern be?

Too much it turns out.  I started this a couple of weeks ago and after the ribbing and 3 rows of knitting were done, I anxiously gave a go at the pattern.  To my dismay, but not really to my surprise, I ended up with extra stitches on my last needle.  I abandoned the project and registered with my local yarn store for knitting help.

I just got back and I am elated.  Turns out there's a little mistake in the pattern and I was doing the YO after a purl stitch the wrong way...

I am so proud of myself.  This was the best gift, from me to me to kick it up a notch and kick the pattern anxiety up the wazoo!


Happy Stella

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros

I've just received this beautiful cookbook and I can't wait to try some of the recipes.  I first saw this book in a photo in an ezine and thought that the name was so enchanting I'd have to have a better look.
I went to Abe Books and got my copy for a few dollars.  A few dollars well spent it seems as the drawings are heartwarming and the pictures make me drool.

It has the cutest family tree...

And beautiful food pictures...

And old pictures of family with stories...

And a lot of lip-smacking recipes...

...smoked salmon paté, chickpea, coriander and feta salad, baked quinces with brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts (good for when we are in France, veal loin with mustard, pancetta and cabbage... all made with the freshest ingredients.

This cookbook is a tribute to her multi-cultural background and family.  Great job!  Puts me in a mind to do something with Mom's favorite recipes...

Bonne journée,


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Holiday Gift Ideas

To brighten your home from Restoration Hardware

A great gift for ANYONE from Restoration Hardware

For a favorite child from RH

Snowman kit for a family gift from RH

Le Creuset Honey Pot for Mom

Le Creuset Salt Crock for a Foodie
Fitbit Flex activity and sleep tracker for Dad
I have considered all of the above for myself and my family.  Any more neat ideas?

Bonne journée,


Monday, November 25, 2013

Knitting Frenzy

Thinking I would have the time, I am knitting some gifts for Christmas... Next time I do this, would someone thump me on the side of the head please?

Knitting for Christmas = stress
New never knit before patterns = stress
My kind of knitting: long and boring = stress because of the time it takes to knit something

So this coming Friday, I have signed to get knitting help for two patterns I am making for Christmas, after which I will be busy knitting up a frenzy in time to give out said gifts. That is, if I am able to make them independently after the knitting help.

I like patterns from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.  If I lived close by, I would try to get my knitting help from them.

This is one of the projects on my knitting needles. I am doing this scarf for a man in my family and the colorway is called Overcoat. The yarn is British Blue Wool by Erika Knight.  It is a high quality, beautifully soft yet strong yarn.

One by One, Two by Two Scarf Project from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

This colorway is called Overcoat

These colors are masculine and fun.  Check out my progress on this project on my Ravelry page.  I knit a whole section today, one of five. There's a lot of love in a piece like this...

Click, click,

Over and out.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter Squash Soup with Curry and Coconut Milk

I made this with one of the two Kabocha squashes my sister gave me and it is a winner.  Our boy D. was working on a project with his friend and they lapped it up.  DC, you would love this.

I did a search on the computer for squash and coconut milk because I felt that these two ingredients would make a great soup.  I got the recipe from here.  If I had peanuts and cilantro on hand, I would make the Thai Gremolata to scatter atop this lovely, creamy soup.

Winter Squash Soup with Curry and Coconut Milk
Adapted from Lisa Moussalli and Better Homes and Gardens

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium or large yellow onion, chopped
3 or 4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 winter squash (about 2 pounds / 500 g), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups (475 ml) chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha or other Asian chile sauce
Juicy wedges of lime, for serving

Warm the oil in a Dutch oven (or other approximately 5-quart pot) over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the squash, coconut milk, broth, maple syrup, fish sauce, and Sriracha, and stir well. Raise the heat to bring to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the squash is soft, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), puree the soup until smooth and velvety. Taste for salt and sweetness, and adjust if necessary. Ladle the soup into big bowls, add a generous squeeze of lime to each, and serve hot.

I also made a roast pork with a lot of garlic, surrounded by parsnips and carrots from the vegetable fairy's latest harvest.  With a green salad, this is a perfect (almost winter) Sunday feast.



Friday, November 22, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Yesterday it was -12 degrees centigrade.  This is a mild winter day for us.  As I came out at 10 pm from my reading circle and swept the snow off of the car, I didn't mind winter so much.  In fact, why complain about winter altogether?  It's a moot point.

This morning, these are views from the house. 

Snow swag?

Paw prints
Nope, at this moment, I don't mind winter at all.

Bonne journée,


Thursday, November 21, 2013

GEM by Kim Hargreaves

So this is the hat that Sister D. made for me.  The first picture is from the Kim Hargreaves pattern book Heartfelt - The Dark House Collection. Didn't D. do a great job?

I won't mind having a hat head wearing this...


P.s.  Nose looks larger on picture than in reality.  Honest.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Warmest of Welcomes

When I go to Sister D's, Janey, Daisy and Lola always provide a warm welcome.  Well, in this case, Daisy and Lola did.  Janey's getting a little too old for all of that doggie enthusiasm.  Of course, there are always cookies for them when I arrive.

I wonder if that has anything to do with it...



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Play Date

Getting ready for a play date tomorrow with Sister D.  We have many projects lined up but until I get there, we don't know which one we'll be working on.  We let the spirit guide us in our quest for creative expression.

It might be this

From Alicia Paulsen
Or this

Vogue 1312 the black one...
Another view of the same dress
We'll be talking about this

Sassy by Kim Hargreaves
And this (will share results later)

GEM by Kim Hargreaves
And this for next summer for sure

Laura pant by Tessuti Fabrics
And I am making at least one of these for now

Mandy Boat Tee by Tessuti Fabrics

And who knows whatever else...  I'm making this soup for lunch because I am doing a liver cleanse.  D. will have pears for us... Did you know pears are great for liver health?

Have a great day!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Just a Regular Day

Today I had to get up early (UGH) to be at the University at 9 am for a meeting to talk about teaching next semester.  It was -16 this morning and in our little village in Provence, it is 16!

It wasn't too bad once I was on the road.  You see, it takes more than 4 1/2 months to get out of a rhythm that was 31 years in the making.

Other than slippery roads and a windshield wiper that doesn't do the job, the 45 minutes to get to work was just fine.

So I'm going to be teaching two courses that I designed and taught 25 years ago!  At first, I was a little worried but now I know that this ole dog remembers a few tricks.

Home now, my greatest concern is to figure out what to  make for supper and vacuum and dust the living room, oh, and there's a load of laundry to fold...

Such is the rhythm of my days.  Tomorrow, I'm making soup and getting ready for a play date with my sister D.  We'll be doing some sewing. 

In the meantime, I have to pick another book to read.  Do you have any suggestions?

Bonne journée,


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Most Epic of Splits

Saw this ad on Pinterest and took it from Youtube.  The video has gone viral with already 14M viewings.  Jean-Claude really did the stunt.  He is 53.

For more on this ad for Volvo trucks, click here.

Bonne journée,


Friday, November 15, 2013

La Dame à la Licorne

À mon seul désir
When we were in Paris in September, we were supposed to visit the Musée de Cluny/Musée national du Moyen Âge to see the tapestries.  It was close to number one on my list.  I checked on the Internet for opening hours and found that the tapestries were on loan to Japan!

Yesterday, while looking for a book for my son, I fell upon Tracy Chevalier's The Lady and the Unicorn.  A friend had mentioned the book to me this summer and I was surprised that I had not read it.  With joy and anticipation, I raced upstairs to begin reading.

I am not disappointed.  Although the narrative is largely fictionalized, it is based on quite a lot of fact.  I am enjoying the middle age flavors of this book, the references to old Paris and the bawdiness of some of the characters, the smells, the sights.

A long time ago, I think it was 1987, I bought a cushion cover of a scene from La Dame.  It sits on a wing chair in our living room.  I just love the subjects, colors and textures of these tapestries.  They are so beautiful and Chevalier's book is allowing me to access their deeper symbolism.

It's snowing outside and inside, it's cozy and comfy and perfect for a day of reading.

Next time I'm in Paris...


Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I met her for lunch today at her office.

She is little drawn and thinner than the last time I saw her.  She can still smile.

"I made the potato tart from Laura Calder and a cabbage salad because we have to have vegetables."   Her secretary is standing by, calm and friendly, a source of stability for her.  We eat small portions and the secretary has to go back to her desk.

Behind the closed door of the tiny staff room,  she tells me about the bankruptcy and how her world is no longer the same.   There is more time now.  She has weekends. She still cooks. She goes out with friends.  She is soldiering on without him. What else can she do?

She's in her early sixties, still attractive.  A woman who has worked hard all of her life.  That business was going to be their retirement...

"I want to go to the Island and be near my children.  It's the only thing that I am sure of."  That and the fact that she will continue to work.  At this time, these are her only two certainties.  Everything else shifted that morning when he said: "R., there's something I have to tell you." Even then, she brushed her teeth, combed her hair, dressed and had breakfast before he would tell her the 'something' that had kept him up all night.

She looks at her watch as we can hear the sound of people congregating in the waiting room.  It's time for her to get back.

We kiss on both cheeks and I tell her that I'm going to clear up.

As I wash the three plates, forks and glasses.  I count my blessings...


Monday, November 11, 2013

Retirement Jitters

In July and August, I did not feel retired because it was summer holidays and I had my full pay.

In September and October I did not feel retired because I was in France and I had set money aside.

I am starting to feel retired.

I am not sure.

Sometimes I like it.  Often times I wonder if we'll have enough.

Two boys in university.

Yearly travel to Europe.

Did I mention I have about 1/3 of a full pension?

All my years working at the university... no pension... just RRSPs.

I never noticed that food cost so much.

Now, I have to look at what I buy at the grocery store.

I'm not sure about this. I haven't felt poor in a long time...

Thank goodness I am teaching this winter.

I will endeavor to believe that the Universe will take care of me (with my help).


Nervous Nelly Stella

Viewing Recommendations for Remembrance Day

Might I suggest, for your viewing pleasure and edification: Band of Brothers and The Pacific, two HBO series by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.  V and I watched these series last month and were deeply touched and a little better informed about the war on the French and Pacific fronts.


A Winner: Cream of Pumpkin Soup

I had to get used to cooking for French people when we're in France.  At first, it fairly scared the #$%?& out of me.  I mean, the French are such good cooks and such good eaters and such discriminating connoisseurs.  What could I possibly cook for them that would make their tummies and taste buds happy?

Corey and Yann came for lunch one day and brought a large potiron.  Potiron is pumkin.  Except this one was wider than ours, the ridges more defined and the flesh a deep orange.

The next time they came over for lunch, I served this cream of pumpkin soup that everybody liked very much.

Thursday, I went to a friend's birthday party supper and brought the soup as my contribution, they loved it too.

The difference with this recipe and many other recipes that I have found is that you ROAST the pumpkin before you use it.

You can find the recipe here.

Now if I could just find an antique soupière to serve it in!

Bon appétit!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Brain Farts and Accidents

I think I've lost my mind...  In France, about a month ago, I dropped my iPad on the terra cotta floor.  Not broken but a corner of the glass is cracked.  At least I'm not the only one,  Martha Stewart did it too.  I guess V. is not the only one who drops precious things...

I cannot find my iPad cover... green thing, magnetic... did I leave it in France?  If so, where?  I checked everywhere...

Can't find my garnet necklace with antique jewelry element that a friend gave me for my birthday last year.  Brought it to France to show her and now I can't find it.  Dang... the last time I remember...

Looking for my house keys, I went through my back pack and found the prescription glasses I'd lost and replaced.  Sheesh!

Now where did I put my Nature's Sunshine membership card?


Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Cause and a Charity

Now that I am semi-retired, I have been reflecting on what cause to embrace and what charity to give my time/energy/talents to.

The cause is identified.  The David Suzuki Foundation website is a great start to foster my on-going concern about the quality of food available on our grocery store shelves.

I want to become more informed about what is in our food, it's effects on our health, locating better quality food and lobbying our governments for the right of every Canadian to easily access healthy food.

The charity is going to be serving breakfast on Thursday mornings between 8 and 9 in an inner city school in Edmonton.  A friend of mine is principal there and asked me last night for this gift of time and interaction with the children.

A cause and a charity that give back a whole lot if you ask me...


Friday, November 8, 2013

Marius, Fanny et César

Really looking forward to seeing these remakes of Pagnol's classic trilogy:  Fanny, Marius et César by Daniel Auteuil.

Fell in love with this story when I was about 10 or 12 .  This 1961 movie was a big hit with my Mom...

Bonne journée,


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Good thing I've Grown to Love Old, Broken Things

Yesterday, Corey at Tongue in Cheek posted about loving an antique broken inkwell.  I commented saying that old broken things were growing on me.

Today, V. was washing the cup (1855) he bought me at the brocante this summer and was so afraid of breaking it, that he broke it.

I've asked him to glue it back together and it will take a place of prominence on the kitchen shelf.